Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Southern Pines a great start

What a great week led up to our first go at Southern Pines II. Toga stayed at Bobby Costello's Tanglewood Farm and thoroughly enjoyed rolling around in the giant sand box. We went hacking in the Foundation on Monday for about three hours with our friends Dana and Bucky, who just moved down there. We jumped around a hunter trials course, and galloped around sandy fields. Great footing and GREAT weather. I got to go on a tour of the horsey neighborhoods on a two-pony carriage, and spend time sightseeing in the area. Three days in a row of great lessons with Bobby really put Toga and me on focus for the weekend. Having only ridden around in the indoor all winter, it was really difficult to get a big stride going. The outdoor stadium school was first and even though I felt like we were going fast, we really weren't covering any ground. Made for an awkward school at first, but by the time we finished we were getting it back together. The cross country school was a little easier to push the stride up to since we'd worked on it some the day before. T stopped at a ditch just like he did last year.....pretty odd because he doesn't have ditch issues. SOOOO guess that means my eyes were down and I was ahead of him. Yup, once we made that adjustment it was back on track.

Thursday's flat school was a lesson in humility. No matter what I did, how I sat, where my body, legs, or hands were, Toga was just not going to cooperate. Totally frustrating to get yelled at for stuff you know is true but can't seem to do anything about - worse yet stuff that usually isn't a problem. Yes I really CAN ride a 20 meter circle...but who'd of thought that on that day. I really did NOT want to school changes. Sigh. I remember thinking out loud that I hoped the old "bad school good ride" saying would work for me.

I moved Toga to the horse park that afternoon, and he very uncharacteristically settled right in. Rolled in his stall (hadn't rolled or slept laying down in two days) right away, took a big breath and went to sleep in the corner. I think he likes being in the middle of busy - if he's one of only a few horses he notices when one or some of them leave. When there's a lot going on and he can see it all, he just seems to zone out. Good to know. The Carolina Horse Park has great permanent stabling it's very user friendly and the horses seem to like it.

Fully expecting to be bronc riding on Friday morning, I got on T and found I was sitting on a quiet, round, supple, and obedient horse. I could actually PUT my leg on him without changes or explosions. It was great and we had one of our best tests ever. Definitely the best first-of-the-year test. A 32 put me 11th out of 32 in my division - biggest division I think I've ever ridden in.

Very quickly we had to get ready for cross country. Toga warmed up well and didn't seem too fussed until we started toward the box. He gets pretty wild when he hears the starter count, so I need to be led in. We didn't hear him say "30 seconds", so we were quite far from the box when he said "go". Would have been stupid and counterproductive to run over to the box just to catch up the time, so we just walked and got a bit of a late start. It was a great start - he settled in right away and just clocked around like we'd been schooling all winter like everyone else. Wonderful course with great footing. I made a few mistakes - which will keep me to my plan of doing at least one more at Preliminary before moving back up - but I recognized them right away and there's no reason I can't fix them. We finished clean still galloping with just a few time penalties...13th at this point.

Saturday morning my division jumped first. I'm happy we went early and beat the weather. Again Toga warmed up well, although quite heavy I'm sure because he was tired. The day before was our first real gallop since last November. I wish I had a video of the stadium - everyone says it was awesome; I was pretty nervous and don't remember it fence by fence like I do XC. It felt kind of fast (still in indoor mode) but turned out to be right on. The kind of long distances were easy for us, we jumped clean and made the time. Finished 7th!! A lot of rails that morning... GREAT weekend GREAT week GREAT start of the season :)

Toga's had a couple days off for his back...which I THOUGHT was killing him but when the vet checked him out Monday he seemed quite fine....Packy was right Toga is a big fat drama queen. Very cranky and snooty when you're on the ground with him, but WOW when you get on his back :) Morven Park this weekend - it's also Star's debut for the year. The cutest Chincoteague pony ever. Little guy with a big jump. Can't wait for both.